Saturday, December 31, 2011

Information That Interests Consumers

Information That Interests 
People tend to notice information that is interesting to them. In turn, they are in­terested in subjects with which they are involved. They are essentially interested in themselves and in various extensions of themselves. Elihu Katz summarizes and interprets some relevant empirical findings:
Apart from the quest for support and for utility, mere interest would seem to be an important factor in selectivity. The desire to see one's self-reflection is part of this. So is the desire to keep watch over things in which one has in­vested one:S ego. Thus moviegoers identify with screen stars of similar age and sex: one reads in the newspaper about an event in which one personally participated; one reads advertisements for the product one purchased; politi­cal partisans immerse themselves in political communications regardless of its source; smokers choose to read material supporting the smoking-lung can­cer relationship no less than material disclaiming the relationship, and much more avidly than nonsmokers; after one has been introduced to a celebrity, one notices (or "follows") his name in print even more frequently.
The relationship of interest to attention can be seen by noting the difference in advertisement readership across product classes. A study in the early 1950s of nearly 8,000 one-page advertisements in Post and Life was conducted by Starch, a service that regularly reports advertising readership. It revealed that automobile advertisement'readership by men, according to one of their measures, was five times as high as that for women's clothes and about twice as high as for toilet goods, insurance, and building materials, For women, the highest categories were motion pictures and women's clothing, which had twice the readership of adver­tisements for travel and men's clothing and four times that for liquor and machin­ery.
Russell Haley offers several case studies to support his opinion that people are more apt to look at and remember things in which they are interested than things in which they are not.55 He further hypothesized that people are interested in information concerning benefits that they feel are important in a product. He thus applies benefit segmentation to the task of penetrating the attention barrier. In one on-air television test, the interest in the benefit offered in the commercial was measured for each of five segments, as was the attention level achieved 'by the commercial.

In another study reported by Haley, the target segment was preoccupied with their children's welfare. A child-oriented test advertisement received an attention level over five times that of each of the five other advertisements.
A most effective approach for gaining attention would be to run an advertise­ment about the person or persons to whom it is directed, mentioning him by name and discussing his activities. Max Hart (of Hart, Schaffner & Marx) reportedly scoffed at his advertising manager, George L. Dyer, when the latter offered to bet him $10 that he could compose a newspaper page of solid type that Hart would read word for word. Dyer said, "I don't have to write a line of it to prove my point. I'll only tell you the headline: THIS PAGE IS ALL ABOUT MAX HART. "
Such an approach is usually impossible (except in direct marketing mail pieces, where the letter and envelope can often be "personalized" by laser printing the recipient's name), but advertisements can be developed with which people can readily identify. For instance, an insurance company ran a series of advertise­ments in which agents were presented in a most personal way. Their hobbies and lifestyles were discussed in a manner that made it easy for readers to identify with them. Such advertisements, of course, were sure to have an enormous impact on the company's agents, who could easily pfcture themselves in them. A firm's own employees or its retailers are often an important audience, even if not the primary one.
Another approach is to present a communication involving topical issues­those in which the audience is likely to be heavily involved. Thus, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, many companies began tying their advertising appeals to various aspects of the highly topical issues of ecology and recycling. As long as the copy is handled properly, the resulting association will very likely be positive. "News value" can also be created by the advertiser, as was done by Taster's Choice In­stant Coffee, which ran an ad campaign'much like a soap opera miniserial, with TV viewers following each episode of the amorous goings-on between two apartment neighbors who met when she ran out of Taster's Choice for a dinner party and wanted to borrow some from him. Yet another approach is to address the lack of interest head-on and challenge it. When CIGNA insurance ran ads announcing its change in logo in 1993, the ad said "Was, (showed oldlogo), Is, (new logo), Who Cares? (copy giving reason for the change)." Obviously, a creative agency could come up with hundreds of other ways to create interest.

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